Fleeing fallen Syrian town, refugees fear Assad's air power

Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:39am EST
 
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By Jonathon Burch

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Gun and mortar fire could be heard on Saturday from the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain two days after it fell to rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, and refugees who had fled to Turkey said they feared retribution from the air.

Laden with what possessions they could carry, Syrians continued to cross the border into Turkey, some saying they were scared the fighting was not over and Assad's fighter planes and helicopters would be back.

Some 9,000 fled the fighting on Thursday and Friday, the United Nations said, swelling to over 120,000 the registered refugees Turkey is sheltering in camps, testing the country's resources and patience.

"We will stay here until the fighting has completely stopped and all has calmed down," said 40-year-old Gasan Alun, who fled to the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar several days ago with 23 members of his family.

"I hope to God they don't bring the planes," he said. "It's the planes we're scared of."

The rebel flag flew above the town, a Reuters reporter on the Turkish side of the border said, and early on Saturday rebels could be seen driving freely in open pick-up trucks, guns slung across their shoulders.

But as dusk fell, several mortars landed near Ras al-Ain and gunfire grew more intense, according to a Reuters witness in Ceylanpinar, just across the border.

Rebels of the Free Syrian Army have claimed towns before in the 19-month civil war, only to be pounded again by Assad's air force or shelled by his army.   Continued...

 
Syrians throw their belongings while trying to cross a ditch after crossing from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain to Turkey in the border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 10, 2012. REUTERS/Murad Sezer